Skip to main content

Full text of "Animal Magnetism"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



THE DUBLIN PENNY JOUNNAL. 



411 



euted; and although in no one instance can he recover 
damages, still it is a very great annoyance to be thus 
worried and tormented. Instead of making apolo- 
gies, the editors and proprietors of literary works should 
set their faces as a flint against such a system ; and by 
holding it up to public reprobation, preserve lor the pe- 
riodical press the liberty heretofore enjoyed of fairly dis- 
cussing new-fangled theories and opinions, brought forward 
by authors ot more zeal than judgment, and who carry 
more sail than ballast. We have always regarded fair discus- 
sion as the best friend of real merit, and the beat means of 
detecting literary imposture, and checking literary imper- 
tinence. At all events, whatever may come relative to 
the present proceedings, we have the satisfaction of re- 
flecting that we have done our duty ; and shall prove to 
Mr. O JBrien in our review of his forthcoming work, " the 
Pyramids of Egypt/' " the uses of which/' in his advertise- 
ment, he presumptuously says " are for the first time re- 
vealed," that if he thinks by threatening us with a prose- 
cution, to prevent our speaking of it as it may deserve, 
he is greaLly mistaken. Please Providence, as soon as it 
comes to light, we shall do ii juaiwe— and faithfully award 
the praise or the censure tne production may, in our 
opinion, fairly merit. 



SIMPL-ii JSCliiNCE. 

MAGNETISM. 

As natural philosophy is a science in its own nature 
entertaining and delightful, and conducive in many in- 
stances to the ease and convenience of life, it is not 10 be 
wondered at that there have been men iu all ages, who 
have laid themselves out for the improvement ana cultiva- 
tion of it. But it is a matter oi no small surprise, to 
think how inconsiderable a progress the knowledge of 
nature had made in former ages, when compared with the 
vast improvements it has received from the numberless 
discoveries of latter times; insomuch, that some of the 
branches oi natural philosophy, which at this day are 
almost complete in all their parts, were utterly unknown 
before the last century, if we look into the reason of 
this, we shall iind it to be chiefly owing to the wrong 
measures that were taken by philosophers of lornier ages 
in their pursuits after natural Knowledge; lor they, disre- 
garding experiments, (the omy sure loundation v\ hereon 
to build a rational philosophy; busied themselves m ifaw- 
ing hypotheses ior the soiuuon of natuiai appearances ; 
which, as they were creatures of the brain, without any 
foundation in nature, were, generally speaking, so lame 
and defective, as, in many cases, not to answer those very 
phenomena lor w hose sakes they w ere contrived. Vv hereas 
the philosophers of later times, laying aside those false 
lights, as bemg of no other use than to misguide the un- 
uerstanding iu its searches into nature, betook themselves 
to experiments and observations, and irom them collected 
the general powers and laws of nature; which, with a 
proper application, and the assistance of mathematical 
learning, enabled them to account lor most of the pro- 
perties and operations of bodies, and to solve many uifti- 
culties iii the ^natural appearances, which were utterly 
inexplicable on the iooi of hypotheses, and much more 
will yet be discovered by the philosophers of the present 
day. 

r The phenomena of magnetism, like those of electricity, 
depend on a cause so little subject to the investigation of 
our senses, that any regular and well supported theory 
can as yet scarcely be expected. The subject is still more 
difficult than that of electricity ; for in the latter, the iiuid 
is made visible, and otherwise perceptible to our senses : 
but no experiment could ever render the cause of mag- 
netism perceptible otherwise than by, its eliects. The 
idea of its bemg occasioned by a iiuid' entering iu at one 
pole and passing out at another, bas become pretty gene- 
ral; but the late disco voito in electricity have naturally 
sugge&ted another theory— which is, that the magnetic 
phenomena may he occasioned by a fluid aualogous to the 
electric, or perhaps the very same ; and with a view to 
investigate this theory, the phenomena of magnetism and 
electricity have been accurately compared with each other, 
Aid the analogy between ttom wurtfully uuu&wl, Bis 



analogy is found to consist principally in the following 
particulars : 

1st. — Electricity is of two kinds, positive and negative, 
each of which repels its own kind and attracts the oppo- 
site. In magnetics, the north and south pole do the 
same — each being repulsive of its own kind, and attract- 
ing the opposite. 

2d. — In electricity, whenever a body in its natural state 
is brought near an electrified one, it becomes itself elec- 
trified, and possessed ot the ^contrary electricity, after 
which an attraction takes place. In like manner, when a 
piece of iron or steel is brought within the influence of a 
magnet, it becomes itself possessed of a magnetism con- 
trary to that which the magnet possesses, and is of course 
attracted. 

sd. — One sort of electricity cannot be produced with- 
out the other : neither is it possible to produce one khid 
of magnetism without the other also. 

4th. — The electric power may be retained by certain 
substances, as amber, glass, &c. ; but easily pervades 
others, which are therefore called conductors. Magnet- 
ism has a similar conductor in soft iron ; for by means of 
it, the virtue may be extended farther than can be done 
without it— at the same time that the iron itself loses all 
magnetic power the moment it is separated from the mag- 
met. Hardened iron, cast iron, and steel, perform a part 
analogous to electrics. 

5th. — The electric virtue exerts itself most powerfully 
on points, which are found to carry it off or receive it in 
vast quantities. In like manner, a magnet will hold a 
piece of iron more powerfully by a coiner or blunt point 
than by a Hat surface. On sharp points, indeed, the mag- 
net has but little hold, by reason oi the deheiency of 
surface. 

6th. — From experiments, it appears possible to super- 
induce the negative and positive electricities upon one 
another; and in magnetics it is possible to do the same. 

These are the most remarkable particulars iu which 
magnetism and electricity are made to^agree ; but the uil- 
ferences between them are no less remarkable. The mag- 
netic power attects none of our senses, and, most percep- 
tible at least, attracts only iron ; whilst electricity attracts 
and repels bodies of every kind indiscriminately. The 
electric virtue presides on the surlace, but that of the 
magnet pervades the whole substance. A magnet loses 
nothing of its power by communicating iu virtue to other 
bodies, but electricity always does. And, lastly, the mag-* 
netie virtue is permament, whereas that of electricity m 
exceedingly perishable, and capable of being dissipated. 
.Notwithstanding the^e disagreements, however, the ana- 
logies between magnetism and electricity are so great, that 
the hypothesis of a magnetic as well as of an electric 
iiuid has now gained general credit. 

Is a sympathy lately supposed by some persons to exist 
between the magnet and the human bouy, by means of 
which the former became capabieof curing many diseases 
in an unknown way, something resembling the perform- 
ances- of the old magicians, it appears to have originated 
in 1774, from a German philosopher named Father Held, 
who greatly recommended the use of the magnet in medi- 
cine. JYl. iviesmer of the same country became the direct 
founder of the system, he went to Parib ui the year 
1778, where his patients increased so rapidly* that he was 
obliged to take in pupils to assist lmn. 'ilie new system 
now gained ground oaiiy, and soon becunie so fashionable 
that the jealousy of tne iaculty was awukeiiedy and an 
application concerning it was made to ; Government, m 
consequence of winch a committee Mas- appointed to 
inquire mto the matter. This was a lfliuheei'-stroke to 
the k supporters of the new doctrine, iVfebmer himself 
refused to have any communication with the committee ; 
but his most celebrated pupiiy Tfcstoiv, was less scrupulous, 
and explained the principles of this art m the ioiiowing 
manner : 

1st. — Animal magnetism is an universal fluid, consti- 
tuting an actual plenum in nature, and the medium of all 
mutual influence between the ceUfcfiui bodies, and between 
the earth m<l aauttal bodies- 



412 



THE DUBLIN PENNY JOURNAL. 



2o\ — It is the most subtile fluid in nature, capable of a 
flux and a reflux; and receiving, propagating, and conti- 
nuing all kinds of motion. 

3d. — The animal body is subjected to the influence of 
this fluid by means of the nerves, which are immediately 
affected by it. 

4th.— The human oody has poles, and other properties 
analogous to the magnet. 

5th.— The action and virtue of animal magnetism may 
be communicated from one body to another, whether ani- 
mate or inanimate. 

6th. — It operates at a great distance without the inter- 
vention of any body. 

7th.— It is increased and reflected by mirrors ; commu- 
nicated, propagated, and increased by sound ; and may be 
accumulated, concentrated, and transported. 

8th. — Notwithstanding the universality of this fluid, all 
animal bodies are not equally affected by it. 

9th. — By means of this fluid, nervous diseases are cured 
immediately, and others mediately. And. its virtues, in 
short, extend to the universal cure and preservation of 
mankind. 

From this extraordinary tneory Deston had fabricated a 
paper, in which he stated that there was in nature but one 
disease and one cure — and that this cure was animal 
magnetism. And he engaged, first, to prove to the com- 
missioners that such a thing as animal magnetism existed, 
and the utility of it in the cure of diseases ; after which 
he was to communicate to them all that tie knew on the 
subject. The commissioners accordingly attended in the 
room, where the patients underwent the magnetical ope- 
rations. The apparatus consisted of a platform raised 
from the ground ; at the top of it were a number of holes, 
m which were iron rods, with moveable joints, for the pur- 
pose of applying them to any part of the body. The pa- 
tients were placed in a circle, each touching an iron rod. 
They were joined together by a cord passing round their 
bodies, the design being to increase the effect by commu- 
nication. Each of the patients held in his hand an iron 
rod ten or twelve feet long, which was to concentrate the 
magnetism. Sound is another conductor, and there was 
a oiano-forte in the room to increase it. The effects of 



these operations on the patients were very different. Some 
felt nothing, nor was there any effect whatever upon them. 
Some spit, coughed, sweat, felt, or pretended to feel, extra- 
ordinary heats in different parts of the body. Some women 
had convulsions. The commissioners at last found that 
they could come to no conclusion from attending in this 
public way, and resolved to try the experiment them- 
selves privately. For this purpose, they first tri« d it upon 
themselves, and felt nothing. Seven of Deston s patients 
were magnetised at the house of Dr. Franklin, who was 
the chief commissioner, four of whom felt not ning ; the 
other three affected to feel something. Sever il persons 
in a higher sphere of life were magnetised, ai d felt no- 
thing. The commissioners, however, were dete rmined to 
discover what share imagination had in this business. They 
blindfolded several of the common people, and made them 
sometimes think that they were magnetised; at other 
times they magnetised them without telling them that they 
did so. The consequence was, that when they supposed 
themselves magnetised, they thought they felt something, 
and vice versa. Other instances were given, from which 
it was evident either that the patients were impostors, or 
in such a most wretched state of debility both of mind 
and body, that the most trifling effects of the former had 
the most powerful effects on the latter. The commis- 
sioners, therefore, entirely disapproved of the whole. It 
was observed that the operator sometimes pressed strongly 
and for a length of time upon different parts of the body, 
particularly the hypochondria and pit of the stomach; and 
it is well known, that a strong pressure on these parts will 
produce disagreeable sensations on those who enjoy per- 
fect health. 

It is needless to add more, than that Mesmer com- 
plained of the report of the commissioners — petitioned 
parliament — was by them commanded to discover the 
mysteries of his doctrine— and that it is now exploded by 
every man of sense. 

The conclusion of the academicians concerning it was — 
That it is not entirely useless, even to philosophy, as it is 
one fact more to be consigned to the history of the errors 
and delusions of the human mind, and a signal instance ot 
the power of the imagination. H n, T.C.D. 




ROYAL MILITARY INFIRMARY. 



This useful and tfrn amenta! edifice is finely situated in 
the south-east angle of the Phcenix Park. The front con- 
sists of a centre and two wings, built of Portland-stone, 



and extending 170 feet; The first stone was laidin 1786* 
by the Duke of Rutland, and the work completed in two 
years at the expense of £9,000. The interior contain*